Archive for October, 2010

BOO! The Similarities between Halloween and Camp

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Ah… Halloween us is upon us again. The kids are dressing up, planning their routes to the houses with good treats, and thinking of mischief… sounds like camp!

Actually, there are a lot of similarities between a great Halloween night and a great camp. Both allow kids to dress up a bit. On October 31st, this happens literally: vampires, cowboys, or superheroes (a staple around the Kelly household) roam the neighborhoods. At camp, kids to try different activities and are surrounded by other kids they have to get to know. It’s a fresh start for many, a time to ‘dress up’ up a bit.

Both Halloween, with its spooky music and haunted houses, and camp, a first time away from home and all those new people, seem scary at first. However, you quickly realize you are having a blast and, at the end, look back on the experience with both surprise and joy.

Finally, you have to approach both the correct way or it will not be a great experience. For October 31st, this means planning your route carefully and not stuffing all of those sweets in your mouth later that night. At camp, it means taking an active part in the experience and understanding that you are an integral part of a community, not the one being everything revolves around.

When done well, both Halloween and Camp can start with that fun nervous feeling in your stomach and end with delight. The good news about Camp: it won’t leave you with any cavities!

Have a Happy Halloween everyone.

Cole

PS: Jerry is already planning another Haunted House for next summer!

Taking Your Shot: Building Independence at Summer Camp

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

A good friend recently told a great story about his first encounter with basketball as a young boy. His father had put up a backboard and goal for his oldest son to practice upon. My friend, the younger brother, watched until his older brother was through and in the house before he gave it a try.

Holding the ball in his very young hands, he looked up at the goal “which looked like it was 100 feet in the air.” After standing there for a while and just staring at that far off goal, he noticed his father standing next to him.

“Son, are you ready to take your shot?” his father asked.

“Dad, it’s so far away. There is no way I can make it,” my friend dejectedly responded.

“Son, I didn’t ask you to make the shot. I asked if you were ready to take it.”

My friend went on to explain the beauty and power of studying, preparing, and then taking your shot. There is honor in a well-intentioned attempt. There is much to be learned in simply taking the shot: knowledge, increased skill, and, perhaps above all, independence. These factors combine to form the foundation and fuel for true self-esteem.

All of our first time campers are ‘taking their shot.’ It’s a very big deal to go to camp. For most, a session at Weequahic represents the first time they have been away from the comforts of home.

Surrounded by excited children and engaged staff from all over the country, our campers have the time of their lives while doing things they’d never have a chance to experience at home. They are taking their shot inside a community committed to helping it be a successful attempt. We can’t promise our campers will have fun because we can’t control what they think. We promise, though, if a child decides to take a shot, they’ll go home more knowledgeable, powerful, and independent.

So, here’s to taking the shot. Give it all you’ve got. We can’t wait to help.

Hat Tip to Chuck Hodges.

Cole Kelly, Camp Director

The Best of the Best

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Many returning campers will tell you that the best thing about camp was the people, and they don’t just mean their bunkmates and fellow campers. Campers also develop strong bonds and relationships with their counselors and camp coaches. At Camp Weequahic, the camp director works year-round to find the highest-caliber professional staff, and these dedicated adults devote their summers to your kids and their development.

In addition to many of the staff being former campers themselves, they are also graduate students, teachers, coaches, and even some professional athletes, all of whom want to mentor and teach kids in the amazing environment of summer camp. Being a teacher isn’t enough, nor is being an experienced coach. The camp staff have to connect with camp-age kids and form the bonds that make the weeks at camp so special and productive.

We all know that kids learn better from coaches and teachers they like and respect and will retain the skills and lessons much longer. How many of us can still remember our favorite mentor and something specific they told us all those (many!) years ago?

While camp isn’t school, as we all know, your child’s camp program is specially designed to make the most out of the experiential/informal education nature of a summer in the woods. Many of the coaches at camp have spent many years working at camp, perfecting their programs and curricula. They know what works in a camp setting (and what doesn’t) and have shaped their programs so your kids get the maximum benefit.

Camp coaches also go above and beyond the normal expectations of parents. Many of the coaches, for example, will communicate with the kids’ coaches back home so the transition and skill-building is seamless. The kids don’t miss a beat.

At Weequahic, the coaches are dedicated to developing advanced skills in many areas, including soccer, lacrosse, tennis, basketball, and swimming. Shorter season programs allow kids to try out something new, while longer six week sessions give them just the right amount of time to develop new skills and continue to build on them as the summer progresses.

Please visit the rest of the Weequahic website to learn more about the fantastic group of people waiting for you!

Susan

The Purpose of Camp

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

While you may not have heard of George Handel, you most likely have heard his most popular oratorio, Messiah. It’s one of the most popular works in Western choral music and can be found in movies, on the small screen, even in elevators.

Upon the completion of its first performance, a nobleman (Handel worked for King George of England in the 1700’s so he was around a lot of ‘noblemen’) congratulated Handel on “your most noble entertainment.”

Handel replied, “My lord, I should be sorry if I only I entertained them. I wish to make them better.”

That perfectly describes my feelings toward camp. We don’t wish to only entertain, though a summer at Weequahic includes a ton of laughter, excitement, and adventure. We wish our campers, who come to us as interested, excited, and great young people, to leave Weequahic even better.

We spend ten months planning a two month party that should end with kids and families raving about how much fun they’ve had as well as how much they’ve grown. We want our campers to leave more independent, courageous, and patient. We want them to be stronger in the sense of who they are and confident in the joy they can bring to the world. They should leave having learned a few new skills, built some wonderful and lasting friendships, and more secure in who they are.

Because, to me, that is what camp is all about.

Cole Kelly, Camp Director

With thanks to Wikipedia Commons for the Handel photo.

Building Friendships at Camp

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

What do you get when you put nine kids and three young adults into a room for 21 days with no computers, cell phones, or video games? Well, in the best circumstance, something pretty awesome: a whole bunch of new, lasting friendships!

In my experience, the single biggest worry children have in going to camp for the first time is “will people like me?” They are going away from home and mixing it up with children from all over the US and, possibly, even other countries. Let’s face it, it’s a big deal! We’ve found that speed at which campers build friendships is directly related to their feelings of comfort at and enjoyment in camp.

So, how do you go about building a lasting friendship at camp? Here are a couple of ideas campers should follow:

  1. Be Kind. I know it sounds funny and probably too simple but it works! Going into a new situation, the best way to show you are open and interested in building friendships is to treat others as you would want to be treated. For 99.9% of us, that means a smiling face, a kind word, and being included.
  2. Be Yourself. Sure, you can go off to camp make up a new ‘you.’ However, I’ve found it easier and more successful for kids to be simply themselves. You’ll have more than enough time for everyone to get to know and appreciate who you are!
  3. Be Present. The idea is to be truly at camp, engaged in what the bunk or group is doing, and not sitting on the sidelines or with your mind wandering elsewhere. You’ll be surprised at how much fun you’ll have doing the most random, goofy things at camp. Speaking of fun….
  4. Have Fun! The more fun you have with the kids around you, the more likely you are to building lasting friendships. Notice I said “with.” Enjoying a laugh at someone else’s expense is never a good way to make a friend. Remember idea #1!

There are a few other important factors for building friendships at camp that parents should ask about:

  1. The Counselors. How does the camp interview, hire, and train their staff. When you speak to families currently attending the camp (and you should), ask them about their child’s experience with the staff. These young men and women will have a tremendous effect on the campers’ ability to build friendships.
  2. The Program Day. Being together all day, every day can be tough on friendships, even new ones. Through experience, we’ve found a day where campers get to spread out away from their bunk from time to time provides a healthy mix of new and known experiences. This leads to more stories, more excitement, and more interesting interactions.
  3. Atmosphere. Is the camp, well, campy? Do they sing goofy songs, create time for unstructured (but supervised) fun, instill a joie d’ vivre for everyone?

While this list is not exhaustive, it does touch on the more important aspects of building friendships at camp. It’s something we work hard on at Weequahic and can’t wait to do it again next summer!

Cole Kelly, Camp Director